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Waikato exhibition and virtual gallery celebrates unity

Eleven Waikato artists have created artworks that inspire conversation, inclusivity and unity.

The Kotahitanga United Through Creativity exhibition opened this week at the University of Waikato’s Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts Gallery.

The exhibition is enhanced by an online gallery,, which showcases the artworks alongside short documentary films about the artists and their creations.

Creative Waikato is the driving force behind the initiative which aims to engage, inform, and connect with people from across different cultures and communities.

The selected artists are Mila Renault, Hollie Tawhiao, Simone Ishinabe, Nick Johnston, Dr Nālani Wilson-Hokowhitu, Rachel Kiddie McClure, Jessica Moughan, Teuila Fatupaito, Ariana Sheehan, Jessie Leov and Sandra Maree Jensen.

The commissioned works all connect with the idea of kotahitanga, or unity, and span a range of artforms including painting, costume, performance, musical composition, raranga (weaving), drawing and sculpture.

Creative Waikato CEO Dr Jeremy Mayall says the collection features something for everyone and encourages people to view the online gallery or head along to the exhibition.

“This collection shares many different artforms, from many different artists, and there is sure to be something in here that sparks that magic for everyone.

“Take some time with the collection, experience the works, hear the stories, find the thing that brings you some joy, and celebrate it.”

Mayall says art and creativity allows us to find connections between people and places, show kindness to each other and celebrate the things that make us unique.

“Artists can serve as guides to help us view the world in different ways. In this exhibition, 11 local artists are celebrating inclusivity and sparking conversation through creativity.”

Kotahitanga United Through Creativity emerged in 2020 and resulted in 17 works being created and exhibited.

This year the project has continued with the support of Trust Waikato. The new set of works will join the growing collection that serves to build a sense of whanaungatanga, or connection.

Works by tamariki from around the region are also showcased in the exhibition — ignited by a school resource kit Creative Waikato developed following the first round of artworks created last year.

The Kotahitanga United Through Creativity physical exhibition will remain open until 11 February 2022 and can be viewed from 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.

In the coming weeks, Creative Waikato will be distributing postcard versions of the artworks, made freely available throughout the region to help residents spread the kaupapa.

Photo caption : Sandra Maree Jensen is one of the contributing artists to the Kotahitanga United Through Creativity exhibition. 

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